Elementary school forced to cease yoga classes and use of “namaste” after complaints from parents.
The Bullard Elementary School in Kennesaw, Georgia has recently come under fire for its use of yoga in the classroom. The school was forced to issue an apology to the parents of its students, who felt that the school was indoctrinating their children with “far eastern ideology.”
The school has now issued a ban on the usage of the term “namaste” and also on the act of placing one’s hand over the heart while practicing yoga. It was also believed that the school’s yoga teachers had taught students about healing crystals, a claim that the school denies as completely false. Nevertheless, the school has issued a ban against that as well.
The principal of the school, in the issued apology, stating that she was sorry for allowing the mindfulness/de-stressing classes to create certain “misconceptions,” which in turn, resulted in the development of distractions within the community.
The use of the term “distractions” was in reference to the criticism made by parents in the form of posts and updates on Facebook. Parents had posted statuses indicating that they were unhappy about a practice with “religious overtones” being encouraged in the school.
Susan Javamillo, one of the parents who spoke to Valerie Hoff of 11Alive, stated that she found it surprising that the school, which normally does not allow prayers or even the pledge, was okay with the teaching of such an ideology to its students. She further commented that the practice of mindfulness yoga was religious and that it should not be taught to students.
Both the Bullard Elementary and the Cobb County School District refused to comment further on the issue. However, they did release a copy of the apology letter sent to parents by the school’s principal, Patrice Moore.
In the letter, the principal mentions that Bullard has encouraged the practice of de-stressing techniques amongst students for a long time. She added that, however, some of the more recent concepts being taught as part of the mindfulness practice have offended some people.
According to Cheryl Crawford, an expert on children’s yoga from the Atlanta area, the term “namaste” translates into “the light in me, sees the light in you” and that it is a formal greeting used in India, equivalent to the English term, “Hello.” She added that it was basically a way of saying that one’s goodness sees the goodness in the other.
Cheryl also mentioned that removing the term “namaste” from the overall practice was not really a problem as long as students were still benefiting from the general practice of mindfulness yoga, which is known to help people with relaxation and breathing.
Yoga is an ancient practice, which does have its roots in Buddhism and Hinduism. It is a popular form of exercise in the east, especially India. In recent years, yoga has become a sort of global phenomenon and has gained special attention from the west.
— Brady Hicks (@bradyhicks) March 26, 2016
Mindfulness yoga or mindfulness is a specific meditative state that one enters into while practicing Yoga. It is believed that entering into such a state can “clear the mind.”